I am quite confused about Avengers: Endgame. If Doctor Strange was able to watch all possible future combinations of winning, why didn't Thanos use that trick in 2018 after killing 50% of the population. He could have travelled to the future, especially to 2023, and prevented the Avengers from killing 2014's Thanos.

Sounds weird but possible with the Time Stone. What are your explanations for this?


3 Answers 3


He could have travelled to the future, especially to 2023, and prevented the Avengers from killing 2014's Thanos.

He didn't know he needed to travel to the future.

As far as he's concerned, he's won. He's achieved everything he set out to do, he's destroyed half of all life in the universe and "retired" to the Garden with the Infinity Stones.

He'd have no reason to look into the future and having destroyed the Stones a couple of days later he's unconcerened with potential temporal threats since he thinks the Time Stone no longer exists.

It's also not clear whether Thanos knows that time travel is even possible, certainly there is no indication of it even being considered. Both Tony and Bruce initially said that time travel wasn't possible.

  • 16
    "he thinks the Time Stone no longer exists" Logically speaking, once the Time Stone has ever existed at any point in time, it can crop up at any time - even after it was destroyed - because of time travel. I guess Thanos was thinking of the Time Stone as just a piece of the collection of parts needed to enable the Snap, and had neglected to consider the ramifications of its own powers. May 22, 2019 at 18:47
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    Important: Do we even know if Thanos acknowledges Time Travel as a thing? I mean we know of the concept because of culture and art and stuff that we, living on Earth with other humans, have. For all we know, Titan had no such concept in their fiction, and Thanos doesn't generally seem very interested in the culture of the people he's halving.
    – Delioth
    May 22, 2019 at 19:29
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    Thanos destroyed the stones because he anticipated someone eventually wanting to use them to undo the snap. I think it's safe to say that if he had been aware of any other method of undoing it, he would have taken appropriate measures to prevent it. Even if time travel to the future wasn't possible for him, he had other methods at his disposal that would have worked (such as destroying the van so Scott could never escape the Quantum Realm). The fact that he did nothing else implies that he was not aware of any other viable attempt to undo the snap.
    – aleppke
    May 22, 2019 at 20:28
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    Thanos was more about feeling successful than being successful. May 25, 2019 at 18:40
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    @aleppke I disagree... doesn't he say in the movie that he destroyed them because they were too tempting? Also, he believes that people will be grateful for what he did, he was not anticipating people wanting to undo it.
    – GendoIkari
    May 26, 2019 at 18:04

Paulie_D's answer is great and I think is the most satisfying one. I'd like to bring an additional argument to the table.

We don't know if the Time Stone is able to do that. (Or, even if it was, if Thanos is able to do the trick)

By memory (I can maybe later fact check a bit more), the Time Stone is used:

1. To forward time locally

Used by Dr. Strange in his titular movie, to rot an apple. Only the apple goes forward in time, and it anyway follows what would happen to the apple: it gets bitten, because that apple will be eaten. Unclear if the apple now has to be eaten to "fulfill its destiny".

2. To rewind time locally

Used by Dr. Strange for the aforementioned apple, and by Thanos in Infinity War to rewind Vision's "death"1

3. To see possible futures

Used by Dr. Strange in Infinity War, to ... "live" possible futures. Not clear if he only sees them, or he has to live through them in speed 1x. I doubt, since he sees past his death, but still unclear.

4. To do the timey-loopy-thingy

Used by Dr. Strange at the end of his movie, but it's used in another dimension. Not clear if it would work in our dimension.

5. To rewind time globally

Used by Dr. Strange at the end of his movie, to rewind Earth's destruction.

So, it was never used to go forward in time if not for the case of the apple, that anyway fulfilled the destiny it was supposed to go through (in the case of Thanos, dying by the hands of Thor in 2018). Maybe he could have been able to see the future using Strange's trick (although, it's not known how much skill is needed to pull that trick, the only thing Thanos did with the Stone is literally the first thing Strange tried "for fun"), but we definitely do not know if the Time Stone is able to make "a jump in time".

1 "death" and not death because the Time Stone never revived anyone, it fixed a robot. Sorry Wanda.

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    I mean, yes, but it is the Time Stone, come on.
    – Obie 2.0
    May 23, 2019 at 2:02
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    The timey-loopy-thingy was something Strange was warned about when he first used the Eye, so I think it's clear it would be (at least a credible) danger to our dimension as well. However, it also doesn't solve anything.
    – Luaan
    May 23, 2019 at 5:59
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    I agree. The Avengers travel in time through the Quantum Realm, and it's never been shown that one could actually travel into the future using the Time Stone. What we've been shown is that the TS can alter the passing of time on a target (however big), but it probably cannot create an alternate timeline.
    – Simone
    May 23, 2019 at 10:49
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    It's probably worth pointing out that the apple thing involved a spell. He has the magical runes involved and everything. It's not simply a "use the time stone" thing, it's a spell that works in conjunction with the time stone. So do his other uses. It's not clear if the spell is simply a safety measure so you don't have to use and interact with the stone directly, if it is required for some of these effects (but evidently not all, going by Vision's un-death), or amplifies efficacy. Jun 5, 2019 at 23:55

Ultimately I agree with Paulie_D's conclusion that Thanos didn't know he would need to explore that possibility. Also, he'd been planning the snap and his retirement for some time, and when it all went according to plan then it was time to stop. Additionally, the bit about temptation means that if he had a weaker will, he might have done exactly what you are asking about.

Would he be capable of doing it though? Yes, and I propose that because of a single line he delivered in Infinity War that, as far as I've seen, hasn't been mentioned in any of the comments or the chat.

As he yanks the Eye of Agamotto from Strange's neck and crushes it in his hand:

You're full of tricks, wizard. But you never once used your greatest weapon.

This tells me that Thanos knows at least as much about the Time Stone as Strange, and perhaps even more. I wish they had explored that idea a bit more, but instead all we saw was what we already knew: Strange could explore futures as a spectator, and time could be reversed locally.

But unless the "greatest weapon" Thanos was talking about was the ability to travel through time and change it, I would assume that's one of the restrictions on the Time Stone. Because remember: no one used the Time Stone explicitly in Endgame. The Avengers, and Nebula/Thanos, and finally Steve Rogers all used the quantum realm to do their time traveling/changing.

  • 1
    Nah, while he may know much about the time stone, this quote only implies he knows that Strange has an infinity stone and each infinity stone certainly is powerful by design. It doesn't imply he knows what exactly the stone can do just that he didn't see Strange use the stone. The sentence is also an implicit question to where it is. Jun 5, 2019 at 11:49
  • @Frank Hopkins so Thanos’s idea of the time stone’s power is rewinding the fight every time someone takes a punch? Does that line up with the creativity we see him exhibit with all the other stones?
    – kjekk
    Jun 6, 2019 at 12:20
  • No, my point is we have no indication as to what Thanos thinks one can do with the time stone, but rather that he assumes to see the stone when it is being used by Strange, which he hasn't so far. Jun 6, 2019 at 13:10

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